“Background Music”

Homily/Memorial Evensong/All Saints’ Sunday

In the Name of God: Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. Amen.

These days, music is everywhere. It’s in elevators and cars and stores—even in our telephones. Music has become so common that it hardly registers. It’s background music.

This evening, though, music is front-and-center. We have gathered to worship God through the rich tradition of Anglican Evensong and by presenting new work by David Del Tredici.

Lawrence Parke Murphy left a legacy to the Church of the Incarnation that made this evening possible. Larry was a librarian who spent most of his adult life in New York City. He was a member of Incarnation, and lived with his partner, Robert Goldstein, a few blocks from the church.

Even during his later years when he was in poor health, Larry still managed to play duets with friends on the two grand pianos in his living room. Music was in the foreground of Larry’s life—and one of the reasons he loved this church.

I would also note that our Organist and Director of Music, Dr. Matthew Lewis, was particularly kind to Larry, visiting him when he was sick and keeping him up-to-date about the musical life at Incarnation.

The Spirit of God works in many ways. Often, the Spirit works like background music—on the edges of our consciousness, behind the scenes—even if, at the same time, the spirit influences the main events of our lives in ways we may hardly notice.

And then, sometimes, the Spirit breaks through and enters the center of our consciousness. As when we are touched by love. Or when we remember past friendships. Or when we marvel at the creative powers of the human heart.

Today, we are hearing music reflecting the best of contemporary composition. We are hearing new sounds that have never been presented to the public.

This isn’t background music! We will be paying close attention. And we will be listening with grateful hearts—thankful to God for the gift of music, thankful to Larry Murphy for his legacy, thankful to David Del Tredici for magnificently fulfilling his commission, and thankful for all the saints in the background of our lives.


One Response to ““Background Music””

  1. Mary Clark says:

    Lawrence Murphy was a fine man and great librarian who cared about books and the mind. He was a good friend of PJ (Paul Johnston), a fine press printer who lived in the Village in his later years. I always enjoyed our conversations. Thank you for honoring his memory.

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